Thursday, October 8, 2020

Saying Hello

 Have you ever encountered another person in public whom you considered to be transgender or a cross dresser? Have you tried to strike up a conversation or just walked the other way. Perhaps later you regretted your decision. In the pre-covid days of my life, it wasn't totally uncommon for me to see a person who triggered my "trans-dar."

Overall. except for one occasion when I encountered another transgender person I knew well, I can say I never spoke up and tried to start a conversation. Why? Mainly because I was afraid of embarrassing myself if the person wasn't trans. The only other alternative I had was focusing in on and commenting on a particular aspect of a person's presentation.(such as a handbag or earrings) Of course if I was at the market and I encountered the rare overdressed woman, I automatically thought she was a cross dresser. More interesting was the night Liz and I went to a New Years Eve performance of the Cincinnati Orchestra in music hall where all the women were dressed to the nines. Including me. The occasion was early in my coming out days and I was scared to death. 

Along the way, I recently received another comment from "Emma" concerning her thoughts  on encountering another transgender person:

" I've often walked away from an encounter with another trans person asking myself why we didn't simply talk about something else - just as we would have with a cis person." Yes! It's just over three years since I started my transition. The first couple of years were so focused on being trans, dealing with my shame and fears, yes, a couple of surgeries. Lots of internal transphobia. But these days I hardly think about it. I think it comes down to self-acceptance and love, recognizing that we are as normal as anyone else. Sure, some of our characteristics are a bit rare, but so is being left handed, blue-eyed, or whatever. Je suis comme je suis: I am what I am. After over a half century on this planet I am excited about my life."

Thanks for the comment Emma! Nice to hear of your excitement. :) 

1 comment:

  1. I think Emma hit on the main answer by referring to "Internalized Transphobia." Through our own insecurity, we can often project it on to others. When I first presented my feminine-self to the outside world, it was in association with a trans (mostly cross dresser) group. I quickly learned the rules of trans engagement, and one of the top rules was: Whenever two or more are gathered, the chances for being outed are exponentially increased. Especially when we are out by ourselves, as when shopping, we are often very much aware and self-conscious about being outed. As upsetting as it may be to out oneself (as by the sound of our voice, for example), it would be not-so-cool to press another trans person into a situation that could be upsetting to themselves.

    I run across trans women quite frequently when I'm out and about. Even though I am so much more secure with myself than I used to be, even seeing another trans woman is a reminder of my own gender identity and dysphoria. If we should make eye contact, I normally just flash a friendly smile (now hidden behind my N-95 Covid mask, unfortunately), just as I would with anyone else. It's like being stopped at a four-way-stop intersection when the drivers aren't sure who was there first, and who should make the first move. Of course, there have also been instances where the other person made a concerted effort to avoid me by making a u-turn (something I've never experienced with a cis woman). Years ago, while I was doing a job making late-night deliveries in a small business district , I spotted a young trans woman at an ATM across the street . We were the only people around, and I guess my gaze was a bit obvious. She responded with an enthusiastic flip of the bird. Actually, my only thought was that of admiration for being out at such a young age, but she didn't know that. We were being influence by each of our internalized transphobias.

    I might note here that I have met with Emma once. We had a pleasant happy hour meeting in a busy downtown lounge. Although I don't think either of us were too much under the influence of transphobia, I remember thinking to myself afterward that we could have talked a lot more about something other than being trans. Perhaps, we'll meet again some day, without the Covid masks - or the trans masks, either. ;-)